Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 14, Number 4 | January 27, 2013
Every government puts value on preserving its history. That is why we have national archives. Genealogy preserves history; the history of a family. It cannot be done without access to records, just as historians cannot preserve a nation's history without access to records. It is a greater good than the right to privacy. It is a greater good than the risk of identity theft.
Past issues of Nu? What's New? are archived at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu.htm
International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is the 68th anniversary of the liberation of prisoners at the Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi concentration camp.
Death Master File (Social Security Death Index) Not Dead
Jan Meisels Allen, IAJGS Vice President and Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that the end of the 2011–2012 Congressional session means that all legislation still in the works and not signed into law—such as those affecting the Death Master File (DMF), better known as the Social Security Death Index—has died and must be reintroduced in this year’s Congressional session. The laborious process of being sent to a House of Representatives committee, holding hearings, etc., must be gone through once again.
A new bill has been introduced by Representative Richard Nugent (Republican, Florida) and was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. It prohibits the government from disclosing any information contained in the DMF regarding an individual who died in the previous two calendar years. There is an exception if the person trying to access the information described is certified under a specific program where the person has a “legitimate fraud prevention interest.”
Allen’s comments can be found at http://tinyurl.com/AllenDMF.
Family Tree DNA Reevaluates Matching Scheme
Advances in DNA testing have caused Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) to go back and reevaluate the results of their Y-DNA matching and Family Finder tests. It is possible that the new rules demonstrate closer kinship than previously thought. A Y-DNA test that previously showed a difference of two markers, may now be redefined as one marker. In the case of the Family Finder test, every few years the “version” of the human genome changes as it is updated by scientists. This causes FTDNA to redefine the matching blocks used and two people could be a bit closer or a bit farther apart than previously reported. If you have used the FTDNA service, it would be wise to periodically review previously reported results to see if they have changed.
Plan Guide to Jewish Material in Belgian Archives
Gershon Lehrer of Antwerp reports that some academics and the Belgian State Archives have been working for months on the compilation of a Guide to Archives related to Judaism and the Jewish population in Belgium. It will go beyond the holdings of the Belgian State Archives and will include records at the Center for Studies and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society (CEGES), Jewish Museum, Kazerne Dossin (archives on the site of the Malines/Mechelen deportation center), Foundation for the Contemporary Memory, War Victim Services and many others). Their aim is to identify existing sources related to Judaism and to the Jewish population in Belgium throughout the 19th and 20th century. Additional information can be found in Dutch at http://tinyurl.com/BelgArchivesDutch, or in French at http://tinyurl.com/BelgArchivesFrench.
Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy – 2013 Version
Avotaynu has just published the 2013 version of Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy. There are a number of significant changes from the 2012 version. A chapter has been added and another rewritten.
The new chapter is “How to Search Online Databases,” which was originally published in the Fall 2012 issue of AVOTAYNU. It describes the various types of searches some sites offer such as wildcard, phonetic, fuzzy and synonym searches. It also discusses the nuances of one-name searches and sites in non-native languages.
The rewritten chapter was previously titled “Genealogical Software.” It has been re-titled “Getting Started Properly.” It discusses the importance of genealogical software, citing sources, entering data in a standard way (names, dates, places) and the value of maintaining a research log. Every other chapter was reevaluated to confirm that the information is current, and a good number of small changes were made. In addition to changes, the book has grown by four pages—now 102 pages because of addition content added. Nearly 3,000 copies of Getting Started have been sold since it was first published in 1999. Additional information, including a Table of Contents, is available at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/GettingStarted.htm. The price remains at $14.50.
FamilySearch Additions for the Week
Recent additions to FamilySearch, both indexes and browseable images, can be found at https://familysearch.org/node/1940. There are new indexes or digitized records from Czech Republic, Germany, Peru and the United States. This includes 97,000 additional records to the index of Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1883-1945 and nearly one million digitized records of Ohio County Births 1841–2003.
Note that at the website announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date. Also note that counts shown are the number added, not the total number available in the collection.
FamilySearch also reported that in 2012, 358,000 FamilySearch volunteers produced more than 263,250,000 index records far surpassing the previous year. The organization coined a new word: they do not outsource their indexing work, they “crowdsource” it. The announcement is at https://familysearch.org/node/1938.
Webinar on “Best Internet Resources for East European Genealogy”
LegacyFamilyTree.com presented a webinar last week about “Best Internet Resources for East European Genealogy.” It was given by Lisa Alzo and it is available at no charge until January 28 at http://tinyurl.com/LegacyAlzoWebinar. The webinar was well presented, lasted about 1½ hours and covered a broad subject. The geographic area is so vast with so many countries that Alzo merely gave examples of resources. For example, when discussing the fact that there are Internet sites for State Archives, only two countries were mentioned, but it reminded the viewer that most, if not all, countries have websites for their State Archives. The webinar was worth viewing and might provide hints as to where to search on the Internet for resources that apply to your specific needs.
Legacy Family Tree is the producer of Legacy genealogy software.
CompactMemory Has German Newspapers Digitized
A 2005 edition of Nu? What’s New noted a new site, CompactMemory.de, that digitized more than 50 Jewish German-language newspapers. The number of newspapers has now grown to 118 Jewish periodicals from the period 1806–1938. The site is in German only, so use the Google Chrome browser if necessary to translate to your native language. There is a full-word search engine but the results do not highlight the location of the word found. Google Chrome’s “Find” function did not appear to help either.
Family Tree Maker At a Discount
Ancestry.com is offering their popular Family Tree Maker 2012 genealogy software at a discount. The price for the downloaded version is now $29.99 instead of $39.99. A CD version is available for additional shipping and possible sales tax charges. This is the version that runs on PC-compatible computers, not the Mac version. It includes TreeSync, which allows updating your tree online from a desktop, laptop, iPhone or iPad. Ordering information is at http://tinyurl.com/AncestryFTM.
BillionGraves.com Database Now Available on Ancestry.com
Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter reports that the BillionGraves.com database is now available on Ancestry.com at no charge. The principal advantage is what Eastman calls “one stop searching” from the popular Ancestry.com web site. BillionGraves.com started in 2011. The number of gravesites documented is unknown, but there are only 629 persons with the popular Jewish surname, Levy, in their database.
Yiddish Book Center Is in Amherst
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? stated that for persons attending the annual Jewish Genealogy Conference in Boston this summer, a potential research site is the Yiddish Book Center in Waltham, Massachusetts, about a two-hour drive from Boston. The Book Center actually is in Amherst, Massachusetts, which is a two-hour drive. Brandeis University is in Waltham.
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